Saturday, August 30, 2008

Our Own Tsunami

Our story began in 2001, when my husband was suddenly admitted to hospital and immediately underwent surgery for Stage 4 cancer. He had not been feeling sick in the previous months, other than being very tired, which is not something that would trigger a visit to your general practitioner. Then one afternoon at work, something just didn't seem right and he went to the hospital for testing. He was admitted later that night. Within two days, his left kidney was removed and after a six-week recovery at home, he returned to work. Cancer at that time really didn't have any affect on us, because of the doctor's diagnosis after the surgery that "they had gotten it all" and also because of his speedy recovery and return to work, it was similiar to any major surgery with positive results. That had been my husband's very first time ever hospitalized since I had met him. He had been very fortunate up to that time, never to have had any major health issues.

For the next five years though, there were continuous three-month and six-month visits with his urologist and other specialists. Continuous scans, MRI's, x-rays and blood tests were the norm, with us always holding our breath each time we received results, but were continuously reassured that "the cancer was NOT reappearing"! As I look back now after all we have gone through, I strongly wonder why my husband never did see an oncologist, just to go over his tests results and give us his/her opinion. Of course, we never questioned this and left it up to those in the health care system who knew best. Knowing what we know now many years later, we should have discussed the option of having my husband take some type of chemo, just to ensure that the cancer was completely gone. A few chemo treatments would have been a "breeze" back then, based upon what he has gone through since, if it would have prevented the cancer cells from metastasizing. I would strongly suggest to anyone reading this who recently had a nephrectomy or is about to have one, and if no other mets appear after the surgery, to ask this question of your urologist. I am in no way a person who can give answers to medical questions, but I can relate our experiences to others, in the hope that it will prevent other health issues from happening to you. There is one clarification that I need to make with regard to any reference of how we were constantly assured that the cancer was no where in site. Late in 2005 after testing, we were told that a cyst or possible lesion appeared, but nothing of a cancerous nature. It obviously was not considered by the medical team as an emergency, since my husband's MRI to provide further confirmation was not scheduled for at least eight months later!!! His admission to hospital however, was two months before the MRI date.

Cancer prevention is the key! Our governments tend to choose the scenario of dealing with the cure, rather than the prevention. And which political member and party was it that decided to abolish our once very efficient health care system here in Canada, by enormously cutting back on health care funding? Prevention would decrease the overall health care expenses, while trying to cure the symptoms of cancer usually result in enormous costs to both governments and of course, patients and their families. As individuals who may be affected, it is our responsibility to mandate our government leaders to have patient testing done in a timely manner. This of course relates to all health care issues. If the results are positive, waiting only magnifies the problem and elevates the health care costs dramatically. I urge you all to lend your voice to a better health care that is more efficient with testing and diagnosis. It is every person's right to have the best health care that is available.

Just one month from my husband's finale of his five year follow-up, he was not feeling well and after a blood test was referred to a specialist immediately. As we sat in the specialist's office, arrangements were made to admit him at once and our second and most life changing journey with cancer was now about to begin.


Anonymous said...

You have coined the word tsunami exactly right Debbie. When my wife was diagnosed with cancer a year ago, we all went through an extremely difficult life changing experience as well.
Good luck with your is a wonderful reference for those involved with any type of cancer.

Anonymous said...

Months before our daughter was diagnosed with hodgkins lymphoma she would call for a ride from school and sleep for two to three hours when she got home. She was only 16 and we did not realize at the time that extreme tiredness was a symptom of her cancer.

Great work, Debbie, wish this blog would have been available when we needed it twelve years ago. Just talking with someone going through cancer or a caretaker dealing with that person, would have made all the difference.


Anonymous said...

What a atory Debbie! You have been dealing with cancer for quite a few years and I feel confident that you certainly know the problems that cancer patients and their families have to deal with.
A friend of mine has been dealing with lung cancer now for two years. She has had two surgeries and is not on radiation therapy. I will direct her to your website for further reference
Your writings are very easy well scripted.

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